Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

To soon to say "GoodBye" ...

Shawn Felty: great friend, cancer survivor and colon cancer advocate

I am numb and still not really able to accept the reality that another wonderful friend and teammate of CANCER to 5K has gone...


I could wax poetic and try to find some elegant words but frankly, I'm just too damn angry and sad. THIS IS NOT OK!

I had the opportunity to be a small part of Shawn Felty's very BIG and WONDERFUL life and have the privilege to call him a friend and teammate. I hardly feel like I can pull together the words to describe Shawn.

Shawn was the guy who knew everybody and who everybody liked. He was the "glue" that bonded people together who would probably never have met otherwise. He was ENTHUSIASTIC, ENERGETIC and SO IN LOVE WITH LIFE. (and PITT ALUMNI Baseball - LOL) He was a downright SPORTS FAN and was set on maintaining his fitness no matter what was going on with his health and that is what brought him my way.

Shawn was also ROLE MODEL and SPOKESMAN for Colon Cancer Awareness from the moment he was diagnosed. In 2008 at the Scope it Out 5K in Washington, D.C. Shawn encouraged his friends to come out with him and join Team NEVER FELT BETTER and ended up fielding the TOP FUNDRAISING TEAM in the event and the team placed 3rd Overall and Shawn walked the 5K event in 65:33.

In Fall 2008, Shawn joined CANCER to 5K to train with us. He was still in the midst of active chemotherapy but he was also still VERY ACTIVE with his Alumni Baseball Team and joined our group to help him regain and maintain his fitness. In November 2008, Shawn, along with the rest of the CANCER to 5K Fall 2008 Team, earned his CANCER to 5K Medal at the VA RUN Turkey Trot in a time of 36:56. While the competitor in Shawn was a little disappointed in his finishing time, he was still might proud of his accomplishment and celebrated by completing his chemo just a few weeks later.

Jessica T., Shawn F., Katy S., Denny C. and Andrea H. - post-race pride!

In 2009 , again with Team NEVER FELT BETTER, Shawn RAN the 5K race in a very respectable 33:02! (although he would tell you that was slow...)

In Fall 2008 when I first met Shawn, after he had joined the CANCER to 5K team, he told me about a calendar that he was hoping to be part of - the ColonClubs "COLONDAR" which featured young adult colon cancer survivors and their scars as a way to promote awareness and raise money and support for the Colon Club. Shawn's goal to be a part of the 2010 Colondar and to help raise awareness about Colon Cancer was a high priority to him and he really worked hard on putting on paper and in photographs, his story, hoping that he might be selected.

I am happy to share that Shawn was selected to represent MAY for the 2010 Colondar. It is no exaggeration to say the experience of shooting and being in the 2010 Colondar was life-altering for him. He made deep connections with some fellow colon cancer survivors that really changed the way he approached his survivorship and really stepped up and out from the role of cancer survivor to an active role as a colon cancer survivor and advocate.

Yesterday, the world lost a wonderful man but in reaching out and being chosen as MR. MAY 2010 - Shawn will continue to impact the lives of current and future colon cancer survivors.

Shawn, you will be so dearly missed. Rest in peace my friend. Thank you for showing us all how to LiveSTRONG and find joy and happiness in every single day.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I'm feeling rather odd these days...I'm UP and happy and super-motivated and then less than 2-hours later I am wondering "What the H*LL am I going to do now?" and I am DOWN and mopey and frustrated.

I think I'm still in the midst of some classic Ironman Blues...I GOOGLED and got all sorts of articles and they read like a personal laundry list of my day-to-day emotions...

This ARTICLE in particular was pretty helpful. Particularly this part:

"Let’s face it; Ironman is very demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. So afterwards you are just plain worn out. After such a draining event you need a rest. So you start to sleep in and go to the coffee shop, you stay up late watching TV, or go out. In short, you get out of the habit of consistent training. This makes everything just that much harder. If this isn’t enough to give you the blues, then tell me your secret!!

So with these special set of circumstances that accompany reaching your Ironman goals, we must approach it with an equally special attitude. When you have worked that hard for so long you are quite entitled to, and in fact should, remind yourself of your achievement every day. I’m not suggesting you shout it from the rooftops, or leave little memos detailing your successes to your colleagues, but just that when you conquer Ironman, keep it alive inside, because it helps to combat those post Ironman blues, and darn it, just simply because you’ve earned the right to! So too should you remind yourself that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that this is merely the natural cycle of things. Just as quickly as the last Ironman registers as a memory and not just something you did a couple of weeks ago, so too will you find yourself on the starting line of your next big Ironman challenge – and for those of us who have already done it – we all know that the feeling you have on that one day is worth everything else you go through before and after!"

Hey IronCAT, maybe you should hold off any big decisions "to race or not to race" for another week or two cause I am guessing your aura is as BLUE as mine these days... Being GOOFY might not be so bad after all. Just get in a few more LONG naps between now and mid-January.

Life is Good - I am an IRONMAN! (Hey, the article says I can share that more often!!)


Monday, November 30, 2009

5Ks and Being Thankful Daily...

Well I hope that you all had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving Weekend. My Thanksgiving turned out to hold some unexpected but welcome reminders on Being Thankful Daily...

Thursday morning I woke up bright and early for the Arlington Turkey Trot 5K - where I met up with good friends Denny & Thomas to get some exercise. We ran into two of my *favorite* Team Z teammates IronCAT and Ollie - who were both looking GREAT on and off the course.

I felt like I had a pretty good run considering that last week was pretty "light" in terms of workouts - I was still using "Recovery from Ironman" as my "excuse du jour" - and I had a finish time of 35:59 (pace of 11:35 per mile). I started pretty well and then the hills kicked in and at first, I tried to "stay with" and then "catch up to" and finally simply "keep in sight" both Denny and Ollie on the 5K course. It was a hilly course through the back neighborhoods of Arlington near Lyon Park and I was passed by Santa & Mrs. Claus along with 2 elves, a reindeer and a Gingerbread Man. I think if you are going to get passed in a 5K - there is no better group to pass you - LOL!

As I finished the race, I stood near the finish with Denny - waiting for Thomas to finish up. Thinking we had missed him - we split up and I headed for the Water table to grab some waters and look for Thomas while Denny stayed near the finish line. As I was walking back to the Finish area (with waters but no Thomas...) I was approached by a young lady named Lizzie who asked me if I was involved with CANCER to 5K. (I was wearing my team tech shirt)

Lizzie mentioned that she knew about the group through her friend Helen Stehm, one of our Spring 2008 teammates who passed away this past June '09. She told me that she had come out to the 5K that morning to run in honor of Helen's birthday - Wednesday, November 25. She didn't have quite the race she was hoping for but as we talked, we both knew that at that moment - Helen was right there with us in spirit and I said as much to Lizzie - hoping she knew that even though she might have had a rough race - her race was a wonderful tribute to her good friend Helen.

I invited Lizzie to come and run with the CANCER TO 5K group this coming Spring and as I walked towards Denny and Thomas and thought about the "odds" of Lizzie and I meeting - I teared up. 2 people in a crowd of 2,000 runners - brought together on Thanksgiving Day thanks to Helen. Proof yet again that every day the people who touch our lives in so many ways continue to "Live STRONG" in our hearts and minds!

Helen Stehm at the Survivor Harbor 7 Race - June 2008

It was also a reminder to me, yet again, to be so THANKFUL for the good health and fitness that I continue to enjoy and the wonderful friends and family that I can share it with.

Thank you Lizzie & Helen - for that wonderful Thanksgiving Day gift - I am forever thankful.

Life is Good! Live STRONG!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back in the Pool...

It simply blows my mind that just 2 weeks can feel like 2-3 months. That is how much Ironamn training had become my daily routine. When you take it away it feels like another lifetime and truthfully, it was only 16 days ago.

So 2 weeks OFF is all that I can stand, I feel relaxed and ready to GO, GO, GO. So last night Jim and I talked, in general, about the coming year and made some basic plans and I decided to continue on training with Team Z. Truth is that I didn't know how I could "not" train with the Team - I have made some wonderful friends and seriously nothing matches the "FUN and FITNESS" that is a Team Z RACE. Add to it that some of my friends and teammates are training for IM Wisconsin 2010! (IM MOO) - GO OLLIE ! - I am sooooooo about supporting them in this effort and looking forward to being able to do shorter training rides and then stay on to CHEER and HELP OUT this time around! GO Z!!!

So now that I am not training for IRONMAN, what on earth am I going to do?

(1.) I am debating the merits of an IRONMAN-worthy Tattoo. Something that includes LiveSTRONG and M-DOT or 140.6 - I'm in talks with my personal "tattoo" experts (a.k.a. both younger sisters) - Location yet to be determined....

(2.) I'm going to focus the next 365 days on EATING CLEAN; learning to cook; losing about 30-50 pounds; and maintaining my TRI fitness.

The PRIMARY focus will be EATING CLEAN and adapting my eating habits long term. (think *lifetime*) Done correctly, the additional weight-loss is just a bonus side effect.

( 3.) In terms of RACING - I'm keeping it LOCAL with the exception of 2 EVENTS. And I am keeping it SHORT - Nothing longer than an OLY-distance TRI this season with a FOCUS on eliminating any/all walking breaks during running.***

*** This might be against my BOP nature but I am going to give it a try - what the heck! ***
  • December: Jingle All the Way 10K
  • January: TBD
  • February: Myrtle Beach Half Marathon & Bike Ride (Family FUN Weekend!!)
  • March: 2010 Disney Royal Family 5K & Princess Half Marathon (Heather Birthday Weekend!!)
  • April - May: TBD - Spring TRIs with Team Z
  • June: CANCER to 5K Spring Session; Survivor Harbor 7 & BIKE VA
  • July: TBD
  • August: IronGirl Columbia (with Heather!!)
  • Sept - Nov 2010: TBD - CANCER to 5K Fall Session & Fall TRIs with Team Z
(4.) Oh and somewhere in the middle of this year - there is a lovely Honeymoon Vacation to someplace *warm and romantic* - but that is all the details I care to share here...

This seems like a nice *quiet* year in comparison to 2009...Time to RELAX...

Life is Good! LiveSTRONG!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009



Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm still producing BIG SMILES when ask about Beach2Battleship and while "work" threatens to take away my happiness daily, I have not let the grayness seep into my sense of accomplishment and pride.

I spent the first 6 days RESTING - which meant "No Formal Workouts of Any Kind..." but that insanity can only last so long. Like my sister, Heather, exercise is definitely a form of therapy for me - much less of a price to pay for working out than for eating (which was my therapy of choice and still, sadly, the alternate backup at times but that is for another blog post...)

Anyhow, ON DAY SEVEN, I RAN. The Get Your Rear In Gear 5K to be specific. Oh yeah, I am that kind of crazy - I ran a 5K race the weekend after my first Ironman.

Get Your Rear In Gear 5K results: 35:46 (11:32 minute per mile)

It wasn't my fastest 5K of the year but it was a pretty good result considering the previous weeks efforts. I really had no idea what to expect - I figured I would either had a decent run or I would immediately feel empty or have no energy. My legs felt pretty good the entire way, just some tightness from my left hip which seems to have worked itself out completely now.

Everybody keeps asking me "What's Next?"

I'm still working that out in my head because right now it feels really good to have nothing BIG on my agenda. I do have a few races on my schedule for next year but the GOALS for those events are still "up in the air."

I'm enjoying some down-time for the first time in over a year and with my 6-month MELANOMA follow-ups with Dr. B, my oncologist, and my new dermatologist, Dr. V coming at the end of the week - I've got my fingers crossed for another year of "No Evidence of Disease." (also known as NED).

Coming off my first Ironman Finish, I'd say that being confirmed NED for yet another year would be a great "Next" moment. Even if that does involve drinking some nasty "apple juice/contrast" cocktail.

Life is Good! I'm enjoying myself...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


So here I go is my shot.
Feet fail me not cause maybe the only opportunity that I got

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo

You can do anything you set your mind to, man

- Eminen, Lose Yourself

26.2 mile RUN: 6:35:41 / FINISH: 16:17:48

"It's 4:45pm and I am on the RUN course of Ironman," should have been all I could think as I crossed the timing mat that signified my transition from T2 to the RUN. But the truth is that all I really cared about was finding a Port-O-Potty before I got to the business of running. Thankfully there were several just outside of the RUN timing mat so I took my much needed break and then headed out on to the run course.

I passed Jim and Cathy and shared the "Mile 109 Flat Tire" story and I could see the look of relief cross Jim's face to see that it was a mechanical that held held me up and not a nutrition problem. I smiled for Jim's camera, gave Cathy some thumbs-up for her COW BELL and made my way onto the run course to start my marathon.

My goal was to run 5/1 intervals. Run 5 minutes/walk 1 minute until I could no longer manage and adjust from there. Early on, I decided that 6:00 hours was my magic Marathon number. 1:30 per 6.5 mile leg of the out and back course. For the first 13.1 miles, I kept that pace dead-on. Keeping my stride short and quick and I got lots of compliments from on-lookers and fellow racers on how STRONG and GOOD I looked. All I could do is laugh in my head because I knew that I looked "STRONG and GOOD" because I was only on my first lap and surrounded by much faster athletes who were struggling on their second laps.

The biggest and best surprise of the race day came just before Mile 3 of the Marathon. As I eased onto Red Cross Street to head downhill, I saw a Mint-Green Honda Element crossing the street. When I saw that car, my first thought was "I will have to tell my friend Keri that somebody in Wilmington, NC has the same color Honda Element that she does" and it was at that moment that the passenger of that car stuck her head out the window and yelled "GO HOLLY!"

I was flabbergasted and laughed. My friends Keri and Greg drove 6-hours down to Wilmington to cheer me on at Beach2Battleship! Since Keri had already made the LONG trip to Lake Placid in July to cheer me on at IM USA, I never expected or even thought of asking her to come to this event. Keri, Greg and my husband Jim coordinated this surprise behind my back and it was a WONDERFUL SURPRISE!

I was so lucky to get the chance to HUG both my sister Heather and my fiend Linae as they passed me on the Run course and I know they were both relieved to see that I had made it to the RUN. I saw Linae at about Mile 4/9 and she was looking good to me but little did I know that she was starting to suffer some significant achilles pain. She gave me a big hug and never said a word about how she was hurting. Then about Mile 5.5/21.5 I saw my sister Heather. She was on her last 4.5 miles of the Marathon and she was looking good and we gave each other BIG hugs and kisses and I told her "Go FINISH strong! I'll meet you at the Finish Line myself in 21 miles!."

At around Mile 10, I began to notice that I was having problems keeping my 5/1 intervals and was resorting to 1 minute rest breaks in the middle of the 5 minute RUN so I adjusted my watch and switched to 2 minute RUN / 1 minute WALK. By making this shift early on, I was able to keep my pace up around 13:30 per mile through to the 13.1 mile mark and Special Needs.

There I stopped and got my gloves, grabbed a can of RED BULL from my bag and started my second lap. I was having to walk more of the climbs on the second half of the course but I was able to resume my running once I was on more level ground. By the second lap, I was clearly slowing down and I just stayed focused on running my 2-minute intervals and power walking the breaks and getting under 15:00 for each mile. As long as I was under 15:00, I was keeping a good buffer of time between myself and the 17:00 mark.

My "Smiley Face" because every Marathon needs some humor!

The entire marathon, I kept my focus on the MILES, knocking them out - one at a time - not thinking about the FINISH LINE or THE RACE CLOCK except as they related to that magic "15:00."

I saw my friends and family on Water Street outside of the Hilton at Mile 16 and they gave me the BEST CHEERS AND COW BELLS! It made me giddy and I totally soaked up the energy and gave them all "low fives" as I jogged passed them. The smile from that moment stayed on my face for the next mile - until the bottom of the next hill. LOL

I hit Mile 19.5 and the last time at the "turn around" at 9:40pm and as I looked at my watch, that is when it hit me fully for the first time. I had a 2.4 hours to go just 6.7 miles - "This is really going to happen! I am going to to be an IRONMAN!" It was exciting to realize but made myself quickly put the thought away. I still had 6.7 miles and ANYTHING could happen between now and then. Now was not the time to lose focus especially since it was getting harder and harder to run for 2 minutes.

Those last 6.7 miles, I struggled but I knew I wasn't struggling alone. Everybody who was on that course, many of whom were still headed for the 19.5 mile turn around - was doing whatever they could to keep moving. The AID Stations were great and they would cheer and yell and get whatever you needed. I stuck to water, a GU at the top of every hour and lovely salty Chicken Broth and that worked out well for me. But my left achilles was beginning to ache considerably and I was walking more than I was running.

Miles 21-23 were the first 16:00 miles that I saw that night and they scared me a little. I knew I couldn't help but slow down because I didn't want to risk injuring my achilles and not be able to even walk but I really wanted to finish the race with PLENTY of TIME on the race clock. So I just kept trying to run, as much as my left achilles and my aching quads would allow. 30 seconds of running, 1 minute of walking - 20 seconds of running - 30 seconds of walking all while saying "Just Keep GOING!"

When I got back to the Hilton for the last time, the crowds on Water Street were pretty thin - and then I heard the COW BELLS! It was my family and friends and they were screaming and cheering and ringing those damn bells and THAT is when it really hit me. I was at Mile 23 of the Marathon of my first 140.6 distance triathlon and it was only 10:30pm. I WAS GOING TO BECOME AN IRONMAN!

I pumped my fist in the air and I somehow found some energy to run past my friend and family and I yelled out "I'll meet you at the F*@*#&$G Finish Line!" or so I am told. I thought I said "G-D Finish Line" but that is not how anybody else remembers it! LOL

"I'll meet you at the F*@*#&$G Finish Line!"

Then next 3 miles were tough but I was running/walking on a cloud. My achilles was aching but I just wanted to get to the finish so I just kept moving on. In the last 6.5 miles I passed 4 people on the run course - that is how determined I was.

The last 2 miles of the course took me up and over two bridges. It was pitch black and deserted except for the Volunteers who were still pumped and cheering and wonderfully supportive. As I hobbled down hill on the last bridge and took a left into Battleship Park, I was actually "Thankful" for the quiet. I hobbled the last half mile and then a volunteer came up next to me and quietly said "You see those lights up there? That is the Finish Chute. Just 2/10th of a mile to your FINISH, Congratulations Ironman."

That's when I found the energy to RUN - not hobble but RUN. And as I came closer and got near the lights, I heard the yells and the screams and the COW BELL and I heard the race announcer saying "I'm told we have Holly Shoemaker turning the corner and approaching the FINISH CHUTE and Hey, there goes our entire cheering section - I'm need to see this...." and around the corner I came and there on the LEFT were all my friends and family - Linae, Shawn, Ron, Keri, Greg, Cathy...and as I crossed the finish line, I followed the advice of one of my TRI-DEAD friends and I made sure to look up! To see that FINISH and I raised my arms in the air - I did it! I DID IT!

16:17:48 - I AM AN IRONMAN!!

My sister Heather actually caught the FINISH on Video and posted it to the end of her own Race Report: HERE!


Heather and Jim were on the other side of the Finish Line and as the Volunteers wrapped me in a mylar blanket, congratulated me and hung a finish line medal around my neck and gave me a Finishers Shirt- all I did was search for Jim. I saw him first and I smile and he hugged me and we kissed quickly and then I turned and there was Heather and we hugged and then I was surrounded by Cathy and all my friends! It was much less spectacle than I would have experienced at IM USA but in that moment, I was with the people who I loved and the people who really understood how much went into this finish and IT WAS PERFECT!

And that is the VERY LONG race report for a VERY LONG race.

And YES, I have to say it...



Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
- Irving Berlin

112 mile BIKE: 7:59:31 / T2: 07:49

The BIKE course is where I am most comfortable. Cycling is my sport of choice and the place I feel the least self-conscious as an athlete and a triathlete. My goal for the BIKE was 7:00-7:30 overall and a average pace of 15 mph. I knew based on training that this was a very reasonable goal and would give me the energy I needed to actually do some running on the Marathon course.

The B2B bike course is advertised as FAST and FLAT and as long as the wind and weather cooperated I had no reason to expect anything other than a sucessful 112-mile Bike ride. The ride spend 12 miles riding on I-140 which was a real treat! It was fun to actually have a full lane of the Interstate and the pavement was in good condition and i just jumped into the big ring and rolled along. Being in the back of the pack at the end of the swim, I was soon being passed by the Leader of the HALF IRONMAN race and they all were super friendly and supportive. Nearly every guy who passed me gave me a "Looking Good Ironman" or a " Looking Strong" compliment.

Pretty quickly, after cresting the rise of a bridge and exiting the Interstate, we got to the course split for the FULL and HALF distance Bike Courses and I found myself on my own again. I just kept drinking my Infinit every 10 minutes and took a GU or Sports Beanz at the top of every hour and focused on the next 15 miles. Near mile 50, I began to see some fellow Ironman competitors and over the next 20 miles, I would steadily pass 3 women and get passed by the oldest competitor in the race. She was 71-years young and also racing her first Ironman and as she passed me the first time at aound mile 55 she said "I have been looking at your yellow jersey for 25 miles now, my dear. It is nice to see your face."

I responded by saying "How about I watch your orange jacket for a while?" and she smiled and moved up the road a ways. I would see her again around mile 74 at a turn around. She must have stopped at one of the AID stations because I was surprised to have her pass me again and she said "It took me an hour to find you." She then asked me if I thought we needed to worry about making the Bike Cuttoff. I looked at her, I am sure, like she had three heads and told her "That at this pace, we had nothing to worry about." and that was the last I saw of her as we turned onto Rte 421 and the last 38 miles back towards Wilmington.

When we reached Rte 421, we turned into a steady "headwind" that never let up and my pace, which had been a solid, steady 15.5 mph dropped to 13-14 mph. That's IRONMAN for you! All you need to do is wait, there is always a new challenge somewhere down the road. About this time, the miles on the bike were taking their toll and I began to find myself daydreaming about THE RUN. I immediately gave myself some "TOUGH LOVE" and started talking to myself, out loud.

"Holly, you are going to stay HERE AND NOW, you are at Mile 85 on this course - Let's focus on getting to Mile 90. HERE AND NOW is all that matters."

Then I started singing to myself - "Blue Skies", "Sing-a-Song", "Bright Sunshiny Day" - anything to keep me in the present and moving forward but I was slowly losing energy to the steady "headwinds" and beginning to have some nausea in spite of sticking to my nutrition plans. I needed to change something, to get this nausea under control but I wasn't sure what to do so when I got to the last AID Station at Mile 101, I asked for 4 salt tablets and a piece of Banana. As soon as I took the salt tablets with some water, the nausea went away - making me think that maybe all I really needed was some water - which kind of made me laugh. At around Mile 105, I at the Banana and it tasted like the "Best Banana Ever!" so I guess my body was maxed out on the GU and Infinit but with the nausea asside, I knew I had to continue to drink to fuel the upcoming RUN in less than 10 miles.

Right around Mile 105, I was SO OVER being on the Bike. I doesn't matter how much you like riding - 7-hours is a long time to be in the saddle. I was so frustrated at that moment that I sat up, out of the aero bars and let out a big long scream....ARRRGGG! And it helped, a little...

So imagine my chargrin, when literally 1 minute later, a brown truck with two race volunteers pulled up beside me and a head popped out the open window and said "Hey, Ironman, how are you doing?"

"I'm OK," I said, feeling sheepish and stupid because I know he saw me screaming...LOL.

All this wonderful guy said to me was: "Good, because you are looking fantastic and you are less than 8 miles from the Bike finish and the race clock has not even hit the HALF WAY point yet. You just keep up the good work!"

It was just what I needed at that moment, to be reminded that I was making good time and doing well and still going STRONG and it lifted my spirits for the next 4 miles.

MILE 109: FLAT!!!

I was pushing hard and getting cold and really anxious to get off the bike when I heard the sound that every cyclist dreads. That tell-tale PPPSSSHHHHH that tells you that you just puntured a tire. I immediately prayed that "maybe I just had a peice of paper stuck on a spoke" but within a minute I could feel the tell-tale THUMP THUMP vibration through my saddle that signified a flat rear tire.

"SON-OF-A-B*TCH! COME ON! I'M LESS THAN 3 MILES FROM T2," I moaned as I got off my bike and began to open my break and shift gears to remove my back tire. As *LUCK* would have it, the race offered neutral support vehicles on the bike course and not 2 minutes did I get into changing my flat when the truck pulled up. They asked me what was up and I told them I had a rear flat and they offered to help me out. I asked them if that was allowed and they pointed to the sign on the truck that said "Neutral Support" and these wonderful guys grabbed my bike and found the glass in my tired and had a new tube set and pumped in less than 10 minutes. All told, I lost about 15 minutes to the FLAT tire and then I was on the road again - praying that I could make it the last 3 miles without any more incidents.

I rolled into T2 and Battleship Park just about 4:35 and when I dismounted a volunteer took my Bike and Helmet and directed me towards the T2 racks so I could get my running gear. The headwinds and the flat tire had only delayed me about 35 minutes from my "race day goals" and I averaged a pace of 14.0 miles per hour for 112 which included 2 port-o-potty stops.

As I ran into the T2 change tent, I did my best to shift gears mentally and get into the tent to change in to my running clothes and get ready for the next 26.2 miles.

Nancy popped into the T2 tent as I was changing to check on me. She had just finished her HALF Ironman race and it was great to see her. She was all smiles and encouragement as I changed my socks and got my race bib on and slipped into my running shoes and hat. She told me that I looked good and to go out and get my "Ironman Finish" and I gave her a quick hug and kiss and headed out of the Tent.

I was elated to be off the Bike and starting the RUN but I was all business in my head. I had a solid goal of never going slower than 15:00 mile overall average for the distance of the Marathon. I had work ahead...


Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

- Eminem, Lose Yourself

2.4 mile SWIM: 1:24:50 / T1: 12:63

Up at 3:40, I turned off the alarm so I wouldn't wake anybody and slipped into the bathroom where I sat on the side of the tub and ate my Peanutbutter and Fluff sandwhich, a bannana and drank some chocolate milk. Then I got dressed and gathered up my bags and Jim walked me down to the lobby to catch the Shuttle Bus to T1. I checked in and we walk outside where my husband of 8 months (he's also my partner of 9 years...) kissed me sweetly and wished me "a great race".
"I''ll see you at T1 and again at T2...You are ready." he said. I nearly lost it then but I knew he was right, I was ready and I kissed him one more time and got on the Shuttle Bus.

The bus was pretty quiet, with not alot of chatter at 4:45am. Lots of athletes chilling with their IPODS, getting into their own head-space. I just sat quietly and enjoyed the 15-minute ride, going over my plan for T1. When got there and I just went through my personal check list. First I dropped off my Special Needs Bags for the BIKE and RUN. Then I went and got Body-Marked (# 506) and then I dropped off my waterbottles on my bike, checked and pumped my tires and got in line for the Shuttle Trolley for the Beach. I wanted to get to the Beach Start as soon as I could so that I had time to wriggle into my wetsuit without feeling rushed.
I got on the first Trolley and ate my PowerBar - second mini breakfast of the day and in less than 10 minutes, the trolley pulled up to the beach 2.4 miles from T2 just as the sun was beginning to rise. It was a gorgeous sunrise and I made one last porto-potty stop and then moved to a group of benches where a bunch of us sat, talking and laughing as we waited for somebody to start the "wetsuit" wiggle.

At 6AM, as I had planned in my head, I pulled out my wetsuit and began to wiggle. As I put it on, I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me, Laura, who was doing the SWIM as part of an Ironman RELAY team. She had come all the way from Chicago to do the race and this was going to be her first time doing 2.4 miles, although she was an experienced open-water swimmer.

We had a great time talking and wiggling into our wetsuits and it was about that time that I saw Linae and called out to her. She came over to join us and we all just chattered away and helped each other into our suits. I took a GU at 6:40 and drank one last sip of Gatorade and then check with Linae to make sure that dumping Gatoraid into a sand-dune would not impact the environment. She said I was in the clear and then we wandered down to drop off our PRE/POST DRY BAGS. Linae and I gave each other one last HUG and wished each other "Good Luck" and headed for the BEACH and the water's edge.

I took about 5 minutes to actually get in the water, PRE-START, to get my face wet and get over the initial shock of cold water. It was surreal after being with the masses of IM USA back in July to be in a small group of about 600 triathletes, waiting for the start on the sandy beach. I stood with David, a fellow triathlete from MD, as they played the national anthem and then they started playing Eminen's "Lose Yourself" and as the music crested, we were OFF and on our way.

The "hype" of the BEACH2BATTLESHIP race is the "incoming tide/current assited swim" - it makes for some of the fastest swim times in any North American Ironman-distance race and it was incredible. I am not a "fast swimmer" at all. I am always in the back of the pack and it was no different in this race. Very quickly, the mass of swimmers was away and I was left to clear water with maybe 6-10 other swimmers in my sight. I just focused on counting strokes and moving forward and trying to find the "current". I never really felt like I found it but i did feel like I got to the TURN BOAT in a reasonable amount of time.

I remembered Ron's suggestion the day early that I should stay to the left and look for the green 18 marker, while keeping the TURN BOAT on my left shoulder as instructed for everybody. I hit that spot perfectly and WHOOSH! It was like a "water slide"...when I lifted my head to sight after about 50 strokes, I was already at the second turn and could actually see the FINISH LINE WIGGLY MAN just off in the distance. HOLY COW! I giggled, put my head down and counted another 50 strokes and looked up to see MR. WIGGLY now less than 200 yards away and I dared to do something that I try to NEVER DO during triathlon swims. I looked at my race watch.... 1:15 was the time on my watch! OH MY GOD! I was about to finish a 2.4 mile Ironman-distance swim in under 1:30. At that point I laughed out loud in delight, put my head down and made my way towards the docks and the ladders.

The funny part was that there was a bit of cross current before the ladders. As i swam for the closest ladder, I watched it slip away so I kick harder and pulled harder and eventually ended up at Ladder #4 of 6. That is how strong the current was...

I stumbled up the ladder with the help of volunteers and slowly jogged the long way to transition. It was at least another 400 yards to T1 from the docks and on my way I was pleasantly surprised to get cheered by name by some TEAM Z folks! That was a GREAT SURPRISE since there were very few of us at B2B since most of the team was racing IMFL down in Panama City.

Out of the water and heading to T1!

I chose to leave my wetsuit on until I got to the Transition tent and I think that helped keep me warmer in the cool air. Once in the tent, I got out of my wetsuit and changed into my Team FIGHT jersey, leg warmers and arm warmers and then just pulled on my shoes and helmet and went off to get my bike *Sunshine* and get on the road.

As usually, even with the fastest swim in my triathlon career, my bike was one of the last bikes on the rack but I didn't care - I was thrilled to be heading out on the BIKE. Jim and Cathy were right at the BIKE exit, camera and cow bell in hand to cheer me on and that made the smile on my face that much bigger!

Starting the Bike...

I was officially on the BIKE leg, my strongest sport of the three.


You better lose yourself in the music, the moment

You own it, you better never let it go

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow

This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo

- Eminem, Lose Yourself

The music pumped as we stood on the beach, with 2 minutes to the swim start of the Beach2Battleship Full-distance Triathlon. I took it as a "sign" because Eminem's Lose Yourself is my "GO TO" song on my IPOD. Whenever I am struggling, this is the song that pulls me back and gets me moving.

That is the first time on Saturday that I knew - in my heart - that today was going to be a GREAT DAY and that this race was meant for me.


Jim and I got to Wilmington, NC after about a 6-hour drive and check into the race hotel, Hilton Riverside in downtown Wilmington. The hotel was the perfect location for us logistically. It was on the Run Course at Miles 3,10,16, & 23, it was the docking spot for Water Taxis to and from the Beach2Battleship Finish Line and it was less than 2 blocks from the tiny Convention Center where the Race Expo/Registration took place. Location, Location, Location - this was the place to be.

The View from the Hilton...

We check into our room, with a riverside view of the Cape Fear River and the USS Carolina (the "Battleship"), texted fellow friends and racers Linae, Shawn and TRI-DEAD friend/local triathlete Ron and decided to meet in the Hotel Lobby and go to get some dinner.

It was great to see Linae and Shawn, since Jim and I had not seen them since our wedding back in April. While I had never met Ron, in person, we were fellow triathletes so the common bond was already there. Being a local of Wilmington, Ron was the perfect host. Recommending a great local pub where we sat and enjoyed some pre-race pints and pub food and enjoyed the good company.

Enjoying Dinner and GREAT Friends...

Friday morning, again thanks to Ron, we headed out to Wrightsville Beach and the Blockade Runner Hotel - for the final brick workout before the race. We had a big SWIM group with Nancy, David, Ron, Linae and me. The water was chilly but warm compared to standing in the wind and 45F early morning temps. Again Ron had the inside scoop for us on how to navigate the swim at this point. Since this was the spot where the swim course turned in towards the marina for the last half mile, Ron gave us tips on where to sight (on the 18 Marker) and where to swim (STAY TO THE LEFT OF THE TURN BOAT) to catch the best incoming tidal current.

After a 15-minute SWIM in the 68F water, I jogged to the Element to transition for a 20- minute BIKE with Linae. We rode along the beginning of the BIKE COURSE to the end of the beach and back to the cars and then we transitioned again (put the BIKES back in the car) and grabbed Shawn and did a nice easy 15-minute run. That 1-hour BRICK spent with 3 of my closest TRIATHLON girlfriends (Linae, Shawn and Nancy) was exactly what I needed to get me in the right frame of mind for my second Ironman attempt.

One last short PRE-Race BRICK...
(Shawn, Travel Gnomes, Holly & Linae)

Post-Brick, we all went our own ways - agreeing to catch up with each other whenever we could as we all went about registering and checking-in bikes. I was anxious to get back to the hotel because I was eagerly waiting the arrive of my sister's Heather and Cathy who were coming to both RACE (Heather, as a relay Marathon Runner with Ron) and CHEER with Jim (Cathy is an expert with the Cow Bell with her musical background...LOL). Timing couldn't have been better, just as I got out of the shower, my sisters were arriving at the hotel! They parked and got settled and about 11AM we headed over to the convention center to officially check-in and go to the Pre-Race Athlete Meeting.

Sisters!! (Heather, Holly and Cathy)

The EXPO was pretty good for a smaller race venue and I had Jim purchase serveral Beach2Battleship items on my behalf (hoody sweatshirt, waterbottles and a visor). I refused to buy them myself because I was a little worried that I had "jinxed" myself at IM USA by purchasing stuff at the Expo before that race. It seems silly now but Jim understood my anxiety and was happy to indulge me and buy the items on my behalf.

As registered racers for the FULL the race packet included a nice B2B duffle bag, a custom chip strap, a poster, B2B socks and a B2B tech t-shirt in the race packet which was a nice change of pace from IM USA. Then we attended the Athlete Meeting and then Jim and I headed to IHOP for my last BIG MEAL of the day. I have learned over the year that for LONG RACES, I seem to do really well if I eat my last big meal at LUNCH the day before the race and for whatever the reason - Breakfast sits well with me. So I had 3 eggs, sunny-side up, bacon and 3 pancakes and a big glass of milk.

After "Breakfast for Lunch" Jim and I headed back to the hotel and it was time to pack my transitions bags and get them ready for drop-off at T1. I packed my bags as we all hung out in the hotel room and Ron stopped by to talk with Heather, since they were racing as a FULL-distance RELAY TEAM the next day. I set a goal of leaving for DROP-OFF no later than 4PM and at 4:05, we were heading to the Element to drive to T1.

T1 was quick and easy and located in Wrightsville Beach. We just had to rack my bike and hang my SWIM-to-BIKE bag and drop off my BIKE-to-RUN bag in the right number bin. T2 was actually located back in Wilmington at BATTLESHIP Park but the BIKE-to-RUN bags would be delivered for the athletes and hung on the racks.

I got another chance to see Linae and Shawn at T1 as they were racking their bikes and taking care of their transition bags. I gave Shawn a BIG HUG, as she was having a hard time in transition with a bike pump and feeling some pre-race anxiety for her first HALF IRONMAN race. Linae was the picture of calm, being an Ironman veteran and it was nice to draw off her relaxed vibes.

Being the adventuresome folks we are, Jim, Heather, Cathy and I took the LONG WAY - through the WOODS, around transition - trying to locate the SWIM FINISH and determine the path to transition. Much laughing and hilarity accompanied our trek to the dock where we stood marveling at the small dock where the athletes would have to climb ladders to exit the water on the way to T2. It was about this time that I really began to realize that I was less than 12 hours away from toeing the line at Ironman again and my nerves started kicking in.

Sunset on the dock of the SWIM exit...
(Jim & Holly)

With the bike racked, my bags checked and my nerves beginning to crest - I decided that what I needed was not to go to dinner with my fellow TRI friends but to get some soup and chill quietly in the hotel with just my Sisters and Husband. So I sent TEXT messages to my TRI friends and we stopped at Panera for soup and then headed back to the hotel.

I sat and ate soup and packed my special needs bags and relaxed in the company of my sisters and husband. After my bags were packed and everything was layed out for the morning - I emailed a note to my Team Z-mates, racing at IMFL the next morning - wishing them LUCK and settled in to cat-nap for the next 6-hours. Waking every hour to check the watch to make sure I didn't miss my alarm - typical pre-race night sleep.